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Have you ever been enjoying the outdoors on a beautiful summer day and wondered if the ticks were bad in your area? Should you wear taller socks? Longer pants? A long sleeve shirt? Should you put on more bug spray? Do you need to do a full-body check when you get home?
No matter where you are, if you are enjoying any outdoor areas that have tall grass and lots of vegetation, you should do all of those things for proper tick prevention. Ticks are all over the world. They are pests for both humans and pets and can spread serious diseases like Lyme Disease. The CDC recently posted data on the number of emergency department visits for tick bites by region in the U.S. over the last five years. Below we break down seven types of ticks, which ticks are the most problematic in each region, and what you should do to prevent getting a tick bite!
There are many different species of ticks found throughout the world and only a few that bite and transmit diseases. Most commonly found on the eastern side of the United States are the American dog, Blacklegged, Brown dog, Gulf-coast, and Lone Star ticks. On the western side of the country, you may run into either the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the Western black-legged tick, or the Brown dog tick.
In the east, the American dog tick and the Lone star tick will bite humans. The American dog tick is most active during spring and summer and can transmit Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It is found east of the Rockies and sometimes on the Pacific coast. The Lone Star tick is very aggressive and is mostly found in the southeastern and eastern parts of the United States. The Black-legged tick can transmit diseases to humans that can cause Lyme disease and is most active in the spring, summer, and fall. Some adult black-legged ticks are also active in the winter if the temperature is above freezing. The Brown dog tick is found worldwide. With its primary host being dogs, this tick is known for transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the southwestern U.S. and along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Gulf Coast tick is found along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. This tick isn’t much of a problem for humans, but it can often be found feeding on deer and other wildlife.
Left to right: American dog, Black-legged, Brown dog, Gulf Coast, Lone Star (Image source: CDC)
On the west, the Rocky Mountain wood tick is found in Rocky Mountain states. Adults will feed on large mammals, while the larvae and nymphs feed on small rodents. The adult Rocky Mountain wood ticks are primarily associated with pathogen transmission to humans as they are known to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, and Tularemia. The Western black-legged tick is typically found in Northern California, but can be found all along the Pacific coast. Adult females and nymphs are the most likely to bite humans, and this tick can transmit diseases such as Anaplasmosis and Lyme disease. Since the Brown dog tick is found all throughout the U.S., you may run into it in the west, as well.
The Northeast region of the country has by far the most amount of tick bites that resulted in emergency department visits in the last five years. In the Northeast portion of the country, 105 out of every 100,000 emergency department visits were for a tick bite. The American dog, Black-legged, and Brown dog are all species of ticks that are commonly found in the Northeast. You may also find the Lone Star tick in the southernmost states in this Northeast region.
Coming in at number two, the Midwest is the next region to have the most tick bites resulting in emergency department visits. In the Midwest, 33 out of every 100,000 visits to the ER related to tick bites. The types of ticks you can find in the Midwest are the American dog, Blacklegged, and Brown dog. Some of the southern states in the Midwest region will also be home to the Lone Star tick.
The Southeast region of the United States had roughly 26 tick-related ER visits for every 100,000 emergency department visits in the last five years. The main tick you should be concerned with in the Southeast is the Lone Star tick as it is very aggressive and does bite humans. In the Southeast region, you will also find the American dog, Black-legged, Brown dog, and Gulf Coast ticks.
In the West, you may run into the Rocky Mountain wood or Brown dog tick. Along the Pacific Coast, westerners may also find the Western black-legged tick, and close to the coast in California, you may run into the American dog tick. In the last 5 years, the West region saw only 13 tick-related visits for every 100,000 emergency department visits.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, right? Well, this isn’t true for tick bites! The South Central region comes in last place with only 10 ER visits for tick bites per every 100,000 emergency department visits. Interestingly enough, this area is still affected by three types of ticks: the American dog, Black-legged, and Brown dog. Some parts of South Central states will even see the Gulf Coast tick.
The best way to prevent ticks is by keeping exposed skin to a minimum when going out into the woods. You should always wear long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes when hiking in tall grass or wooded areas. We recommend wearing light-colored clothing so you can easily spot ticks if they latch on. You should also protect yourself with DEET as this will help to repel ticks. When you come back inside, check your clothing, your skin, and your pets for ticks! You should also always shower within two hours of coming in from the outdoors.
If you’re experiencing problems with ticks, it’s best to contact us, the professionals, to do a proper inspection. Make sure you can safely have fun outside this summer! Call Ehrlich at 888-984-0186 for all your tick control services.
*Data provided by CDC ‘Tick Bites by Region’